Maine IAM Local S6 Members Vote to Ratify Contract at Bath Iron Works, Bringing Successful End to Largest Strike in United States

BATH, Maine, Aug. 23, 2020 – More than 4,300 IAM Local S6 members at Bath Iron Works, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, have voted 87 percent to ratify a three-year collective bargaining agreement at the Maine shipbuilding company. IAM Local S6 members, who build destroyers for the U.S. Navy, will return to work beginning with third shift on Sunday, Aug. 23.

The approved contract includes strong job protections against expanded subcontracting and preserves seniority rights, the two top issues that forced members to reject the company’s previous offer and begin the nation’s largest strike nearly 10 weeks ago on June 22.

“IAM Local S6 has shown the world that together working people can stand up and win for themselves, their families and their communities,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “This fight for dignity, justice and good Maine jobs will go down in the history books of the Machinists Union and all of organized labor. I could not be more proud of our IAM Local S6 membership and negotiating committee, District 4 representatives, Eastern Territory staff and everyone who stood with the IAM and the best shipbuilders in the world. We are also grateful for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and Director Richard Giacolone for helping us get this agreement resolved.”

Federal mediators helped both sides reach a tentative agreement on Aug. 7. IAM Local S6 members received the contract in the mail and voted online and by telephone from 12:01 a.m., Friday, Aug. 21 to noon, Sunday, Aug. 23.

“This strike was a testament to the culmination of Local S6 leadership, our negotiating committee and the incredible power of solidarity shown by our membership,” said IAM Local S6 President Chris Wiers. “Now that we successfully protected our contract language with respect to subcontracting and seniority, we need to get back to work and continue to prove to the U.S. Navy that ‘S6 built is best built.’”

The IAM Local S6 negotiating committee unanimously recommended the improved agreement to the membership.

“I can only salute the Brothers and Sisters who not only stood up for themselves and their families, but for the entire labor movement,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Jimmy Conigliaro Sr. “They made a statement that we will not give into corporate greed or, most of all, disrespect on the job. IAM Local S6 members didn’t back down, even when faced with hard times at home without a paycheck for months. I couldn’t be more proud of our membership.”

IAM Local S6 members received significant support  from elected officials and the community for the duration of the strike, especially from U.S. Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree, who publicly supported  Local S6 several times. State Senate President Troy Jackson, State House Speaker Sara Gideon, State Senator Eloise Vitelli and other state and local elected officials also supported Local S6 members.

“The leadership of the Local, the professionalism of the negotiating committee and the solidarity of our members has been remarkable and unwavering throughout these negotiations and strike,” said IAM General Vice President Brian Bryant. “Each one was a major factor in successfully reaching a fair agreement with BIW. I want to congratulate our members on this hard earned victory. Their solidarity and sacrifice has paid off.”

“This was a strike for the ages,” said IAM Grand Lodge Representative Dave Sullivan. “The older generation of Machinists taught the younger generation what solidarity means. Everybody at every level of this union worked together and showed what we can do when we’re united. When you’re on the right side of history, the sacrifice pays off.”

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is among the largest industrial trade unions in North America and represents nearly 600,000 active and retired members in the manufacturing, aerospace, defense, airlines, transportation, shipbuilding, woodworking, health care, and other industries.

goIAM.org | @MachinistsUnion

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Strike Benefits Check Update: 8/20/20

Brothers and Sisters,

For all those that came to Union Hall for questions and answers on the upcoming vote this week and signed in for two (2) hours, your strike benefits check(s) are being distributed at the same location as before- The Bath Senior Center, 45 Floral St. in Bath at the following time:

SUNDAY AUGUST 23RD 1:00 PM UNTIL 7:00 PM

If the contract is ratified and you were unable to come on Sunday, August 23rd, to pick up your check, the remainder of the check(s) will be being distributed at the same location – The Bath Senior Center, 45 Floral St. in Bath at the following times:

TUESDAY AUGUST 25TH 5:30 AM TO 7:30 AM AND 1:30 PM TO 4:30 PM

THURSDAY AUGUST 27TH 5:30 AM TO 7:30 AM AND 1:30 PM TO 4:30 PM

*We strongly recommend everyone who has visited the Union Hall for questions and answers on the upcoming vote and signed in for two (2) hours to pick up your check(s) on SUNDAY, AUGUST 23rd.*

In Solidarity,

Local S6 Leadership

Wichita Local 774 Opens Negotiations with Textron Aviation

The IAM Local 774 (District 70) Negotiating Committee representing more than 2,500 members officially opened negotiations with Textron Aviation in Wichita, KS this week. In June the membership rejected an offer from the company to open negotiations early. The current contract expires September 20, 2020.

Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace, Aerospace General Vice President Mark Blondin, Special Representative Benji Sullivan and Aerospace Coordinator Tony Wirth were in attendance with negotiation committee members on Monday for the opening talks.

“The membership of IAM Local 774 sent a clear message that they want a fair and equitable agreement with Textron,” said Wallace. “Our members at 774 build some of the world’s best aircraft and should have a bargaining agreement with competitive wages, healthcare, job security and retirement. The Southern Territory offers all of its resources and unwavering support to assist during these negotiations.”     

“Our members who build aircraft for Textron Aviation are highly skilled and dedicated to making the company successful,” said Blondin. “It’s time for Textron to invest in the people who make them the respectable aircraft manufacturer they are.”

“I believe the skilled employees and hard-working people of this community deserve a great contract agreement from Textron Aviation. It is time that employees are compensated for their hard work.” said District 70 President and Directing Business Representative Cornell Beard. “The outcome from these negotiations doesn’t only affect the people working there, but it undoubtedly affects our community. We hope and pray for the best outcome, one that benefits the whole.”

“The entire Machinists Union stands with the negotiating committee and membership of Local 774,” said International President Robert Martinez Jr. “These highly-skilled workers deserve a contract that reflects the quality work they perform. The IAM Grand Lodge will deploy all resources necessary to make sure our Local 774 membership has everything they need to secure a strong contract.”

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Leadership Alert: 8/19/20

Brothers and Sisters,

As we all know, all of us have an important vote coming up this weekend and there are still many questions and concerns from many members. Local S6 would like to provide some perspective.

Let’s start with COVID-19. This pandemic started to ravage the world earlier this year in the February/March timeframe. Life, as we knew it changed in an instant and we, were all forced to do things we weren’t used to. To be more specific and closer to home, the work environment changed at GDBIW, impacting the way business is being conducted and placing the Union in a reactionary position unlike ever before. Liberal leave, news/media, state and federal legislators, facemasks, travel restrictions, parking, and LOA’s to name a few. All while trying to build the best ships in the world for the US Navy.

Through that, both parties were preparing for contract negotiations in April, with the contract ending May 17th at midnight. With all the unknowns surrounding executive orders, social distancing, and restrictions placed on large gatherings, decisions had to be made to accommodate the need to not only sit in a room and negotiate with GDBIW but how we were to vote on a contract. Everything was moved forward a month, allowing for preparations for an area large enough to negotiate in, while abiding by state executive orders, and securing a viable third-party method of voting.

The Union Negotiating Committee traveled to the IAMAW Winpisinger Education and Technology Center for specialized training in negotiating. They worked extremely hard on preparation, knowing this was going to be a fight. The committee returned and continued to prepare while trying to build solidarity with the membership.

Once negotiations started, the committee provided day to day updates on what was going on. They traveled to EBMF, CW, Hardings, and the Main Yard on all shifts to put the hammer down with the membership over the displeasure surrounding GDBIWs wants. They held rallies to build strength and solidarity, talked with members to educate them on the facts, all the while building momentum to regain the power of the Union. They fought against the Company, who was disciplining our members for concerted activity. They won and protected the rights of our members.

After three painful weeks of negotiations, our Negotiations Committee voted unanimously to reject the contract based on subcontracting and seniority eroding language, along with high insurance costs. We, as a Union, voted overwhelmingly to go on strike (87%). We stood up to the greedy company and knowingly sacrificed to fight for what was right, a fair contract.

A few weeks into the strike the Union reached out to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for their assistance in getting back to the table and getting our members back to work. Initial talks fell short until phone calls and letters from Local S6 Leadership were written to the IAMAW President Robert Martinez, Congress, General Dynamics, and the Secretary of the Navy. Talks ensued behind the scenes, resulting in the Director of FMCS, Richard Giacolone, as appointed by President Trump, to get GDBIW and Local S6 back to the table and enter mediation. Upon entering mediation in the first week of August, General Dynamics sent Executive Vice President Rob Smith to sit with GDBIW. These two individuals are what truly allowed the Negotiating Committee the ability to prove GDBIW didn’t need what they wanted. It allowed them to prove that the 253 years of shipbuilding experience sitting at the table on the Union side would help get GDBIW back on track. They provided reasonable options that had been crafted while leading up to negotiations, while on strike, and in the month leading up to mediation. The committee justified everything proposed and provided historical practice and economic value that would result in regaining schedule without stripping seniority and subcontracting our work.

The result was a hard-fought proposal, endorsed by the committee, that removed language that put our membership on strike. We all must remember that throughout the months and months of this process our membership has unified more than ever before. The power of solidarity is a testament to the strength the committee had at the table. We all must remember why we went on strike, the state and federal legislators that came and picketed, the Unions across the state and around the country that either visited or sent financial support, the community standing strong, and all the sacrifices we all made to get us where we are today.

We all need to keep everything in perspective – the long tireless fight, the tremendous support, and the incredible sacrifice we all endured. Being on strike is an ugly reality that gets everyone emotional, frustrated, and angry. We must all remember that this fight was about non-economic issues. Rarely, if ever, does any Union come out of a strike with raises and a signing bonus. It is generally unheard of. In 1985 Local S6 came back from striking for $0.05 less than the original offer.

Everyone needs to realize, we deserve more money, we are essential workers who build the best ships for the US Navy, but that was not our fight. Continuing to stay out would only cause us to lose all of our support, everything we fought for would go away, and we would start over. We would look like the greedy Union that various people accusing us of being. In 1938, in one of the biggest hits to the Union movement, the US Supreme Court ruled in NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Telegraph that an employer may hire strikebreakers and is not bound to discharge any of them if or when the strike ends. This provides corporations an instrumental method for a firm to replace economic strikers and to resist their return to employment after a strike.  Local S6 is only providing facts, we are not telling anyone how to vote. Everyone needs to be as educated as they can be to be able to accurately vote.

Finally, to address the non-picketing this week. Bullet 19 in the strike settlement agreement stipulates that, pending the ratification vote on the TA, and upon signing this agreement, the Union will immediately withdraw all pickets. The Union did not cave in. This is a step forward and gesture of good faith to show we are willing to work together. The Company agreed to credit us with 40 hrs toward our vacation accrual for the month of August so members choosing to return on August 24th wouldn’t lose it. We have a tentative agreement on the table to be voted on, lets see what happens.

Through this entire fight, the Union has had the memberships back and some people think this was a bad decision. It’s unthinkable that in some people’s eyes the Union failed them and stopped fighting. That is simply not true. We will never stop fighting for you.

We encourage all our members to come down to the Union Hall, ask questions to the leadership, and get educated. People living behind the protection of their phones simply breed rumors and only fracture what this Union has worked so hard to build back up, our unity, and solidarity. Distrust and fracturing are issues of the past. Our leadership is united for the betterment of our membership. We are simply trying to give some perspective and education so everyone can make an informed decision when voting. The Union is looking forward to hearing from you and helping in any way we can.

United We’re One, Divided We’re Done.

In Solidarity,

Local S6 Leadership

Join the Fight to Save the USPS

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is an institution even older than our country. The USPS is an independent agency of the federal government, with roots tracing back to 1775. It employs over 600,000 essential workers, including 97,000 veterans, and delivers 48 percent of the world’s mail.

Recently, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has been overseeing the removal of mail sorting machines and mailboxes around the country. He has instructed carriers to not finish their routes if overtime is needed, causing huge delays of the delivery of vital goods.

The USPS is not a for-profit business. It’s a public service mandated in the Constitution.

Tell your Senators: Save the Post Office

“The U.S. Postal Service is a lifeline for all Americans, regardless of age, gender or race,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “The diversity of its workforce is a microcosm of what makes our country great. We rely on their great workers to deliver our goods, food and medicine. Now, during a pandemic when our country’s fear and anxiety levels are running high, is not the time to dismantle a national treasure. The IAM will not sit idly by and allow this to happen. We will use every resource to assist our Postal Service sisters and brothers in their fight to keep America running.”

 

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